Title: Real Estate
Author: Deborah Levy
Series: Living Autobiography #3
Genres: Non Fiction, Autiobiography, Memoir
Expected Publication Date: May 13th 2021 by Hamish Hamilton
'Three bicycles. Seven ghosts. A crumbling apartment block on the hill. Fame. Tenderness. The statue of Peter Pan. Silk. Melancholy. The banana tree. A Pandemic. A love story.'
Memoirs are not easy books to review but this is not so much a diary, but the writers thoughts on her life. It is beautifully written, part travel journal, part literature and movie review, part essay on motherhood once your children no longer need you. This is a woman I would very much like to hang out with sometime, but chances are her memoirs are as good as its going to get.
“Parents do not give children their freedom. They don’t have to ask us for it. They will take it anyway, because they must.”
“I was collecting things for a parallel life, or a life not yet lived, a life that was waiting to be made. In a way, these objects resembled the early drafts of a novel.”
I love how this book talks about the harsh reality of being a writer in this modern age and how critical acclaim is not automatically a precursor to riches or real estate. Set predominantly in London and Paris with one trip to Berlin and ending up on a Greek Island, but it does include some reminiscences of the South Africa of her childhood.
It is also interesting to hear her talk about male writers and their attitude towards their female counterparts. Is writing one of the last bastions of sexism? It seems bizarre but I am sure its the truth.
“A male writer of some note, but not in my own hierarchy of note, had knocked back a few too many gin cocktails. This liberated his desire to find a female writer in the room to undermine.”
This is a book about how to live as a woman in your 60’s, how to live without being defined by a man.
“My fifties had been a time of change and turbulence, energetic and exciting. A time of self-respect and perhaps a sort of homecoming. So there you are! Where have you been all these years?”
The overall theme of this book is of her search for imaginary real estate, unreal estate, dream homes and how what she has instead is an empty nest with her beautiful adult children off living their own lives.
Suitable For: Everybody, but would appeal to adults most.
Drug Reference: None that I can remember
A beautifully written, effortlessly quotable, memoir and about how to be an 60 year-old woman with grace, style and panache.
Deborah Levy has been writing for a long time now, but admittedly she has only been on my radar when her novel The Man Who Saw Everything was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She trained at Dartington College of Arts (about 15 miles from me) in the 80s and has written a plethora of plays, eight novels and many published short stories. She is also a published poet. I have read a couple of her novels but so far, I like her non fiction the best.
She was born in South Africa has been married, had two daughters and then divorced and as far as I know she lives in London.
If you want to know more her Wikipedia page appears to be fairly comprehensive. It is refreshing to see that she doesn’t have a website or any social media.